Wednesday, August 11, 2010

High water & technobabble

Well, it's been an interesting week so far and in Lucas County, at least, we're grateful to be relatively high and dry.

Heavy rains overnight ranging from 3 to 6 inches are causing unprecedented flooding in Ames and severe flooding in Des Moines area has claimed at least one life. Three vehicles were washed off a road early this morning east of Altoona when a small creek turned mean. Ten people escaped; one didn't.

Earlier in the week, similar floods hit Oskaloosa --- our neighbor to the northeast. And it remains to be seen what will happen downstream in the Ottumwa area and beyond when all of this water heads southeast toward the Mississippi.

There are some fairly amazing aerial photographs and other flood-related footage on The Des Moines Register Web site as well as the sites of our principal TV sources, WHO and KCCI.

We had about two more inches here overnight (the commotion woke me up at about 3 a.m.) on top of a similar amount or more Sunday night, but no major problems have resulted.

And have I mentioned the heat? Poor Creston, two counties west, had heat index highs of 120 on two consecutive days and it sounds like we have at least one more day of that plus another round of storms to endure Thursday night into Friday before this weather system moves out.

This week's rainfall has officially moved Iowa into the wettest-year-on-record category --- and there's still a lot of year left.


My only personal aggravation is tied to the fact we're midway through putting a new roof on the church, slow-going primarily because the ground is so saturated that if the heavy equipment needed to hoist shingles, people and tools is moved into place it immediately sinks into the earth. We already have one pond in the back yard created by that equipment last week and probably will have another on the north lawn before all is said and done.

The roofing crew is being careful to ensure everything has a roof over it all the time, but the seam between the roof of the main church and the sacristy-kitchen-office wing is troublesome and both of this week's rains have sent modest amounts of water into the sacristy, loaded with vestments, linen, paper, etc. So I spent part of Monday evacuating the sacristy, part of Tuesday salvaging bulletin inserts for the balance of the Pentecost season that had gotten wet and rearranging cupboards, and the fans and air conditioning are running again full-blast today to keep moisture levels down.

We'll all make it through I'm sure, but it certainly has been an aggravating season weatherwise. We've been lucky, but you feel awful about the young woman who lost her life and sad for the hundreds of people who have lost most of their belongings when homes flooded.


Between water worries, I've been doing my best to become the historical society's personal geek squad.

Four of us went into Des Moines Saturday to buy grant-funded equipment for what we're calling the Living History Project, intended to collect history as it's happening (and record accounts of past events as remembered by people who won't be with us forever), convert some of the masses of paper artifacts in the collection into digital images, turn all of this into publicly-accessible formats and in some cases take the resulting shows on the road.

We were in the market for a laptop of sufficient power and capacity to serve as the command center for this project, a good camcorder, a new scanner-printer and a projector. Sounds easy, but it turned into kind of a complicated morning.

Actually, the product selection went well because one of us (not me) had done his homework and the personnel at both BestBuy and the big-box office supply store we patronized were extremely helpful. BestBuy proved to be everything anyone could hope for --- the staff dealt easily with our tax-exempt status (and we'd come prepared with the proper paperwork) and processed the society check with no problems.

The office supply store, however, just couldn't handle it. In the first place, they were having trouble with their computer system --- a bad sign on a busy Saturday morning. They crash-landed first when trying to deal with the tax-exempt nature of the society and the tax-exempt eligibility of items we were purchasing. That problem finally was solved by adjusting the price of one item down in the amount of the tax so that we in effect paid the tax but really didn't. That took a lot of time (and ours happened to be the only check-out station functioning --- sort of --- at the time because of those computer problems)

Then the computer system would not accept a society check, nor would it accept the society treasurer's personal check, so we finally put the whole thing on a credit card and got the heck out of Dodge. What a pain. I'll certainly think twice before shopping at a store of that particular brand again.

I've been gradually unpacking all the equipment and getting it going ever since, and there's a heck of bunch of hoops to jump through in the process. Aggravations include the fact the laptop runs Windows Seven rather than the version I'm used to and Hewlett Packard has developed and installed a mini operating system that keeps wanting to run on top of Windows when I don't want it to.

Then there's the fact you really can't efficiently launch a new computer or download software (from a disk) these days without being connected to the Internet --- and we don't have a wireless router yet, nor does our DSL modem have two ethernet ports. So a lot of disconnecting and reconnecting is required until we get that sorted out.

And finally, there's my disposition. If I stick with this sort of thing for much longer than say an hour and a half, my head will explode. And I want peace and quiet when I'm working on this stuff. So it's all getting done in small chunks.

It'll all be fine in the end --- providing we don't wash right off our hill and down the crick one if these nights. If that happens, I sure hope I have the camcorder at home and there's enough light to make recording it possible.

1 comment:

Ed said...

I just upgraded an entire office worth of software as well as three new computers that were windows 7 64bit systems with no drivers for all the devices. What a headache that has been. I feel your pain.

I'm beginning to think a second inland ocean over Iowa is a possibility. They are forecasting a higher crest than 2008 and not much below the 1993 crest along the river here. I suspect many will be sandbagging on my way by tonight.